By Darren Lyn
HOUSTON, US (AA) - Legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri has died at the age of 91, it was announced Monday.
Bollettieri coached the greatest of the greats in the tennis world, including 10 world No. 1 players.
The athletes he trained and transformed into tennis superstars are among a long and impressive list of big names including Serena and Venus Williams, Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier and Maria Sharapova.
"Our dear friend, Nick Bollettieri, graduated from us last night. He gave so many a chance to live their dream. He showed us all how life can be lived to the fullest," tweeted former No. 1 player and Bollettieri student Agassi. "Thank you, Nick."
Bollettieri founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978, which served as the foundation for the current IMG Academy.
“Anyone who knew Nick knows how much he loved developing the potential in young people, coaching tennis and this Academy,” said Tim Pernetti, president of IMG Academy Bradenton, a division of IMG Academy.
“Even in his last days, you could often find him on campus, coaching and mentoring young student-athletes and staff with the same passion and enthusiasm as he did in his 20s."
Bollettieri was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014. In May 2022, he became the first inductee of the IMG Academy Hall of Fame.
“Tennis wouldn’t be where it is today without Nick’s influence,” said Jimmy Arias, IMG Academy’s director of tennis and one of Bollettieri’s original students.
“His tennis academy, which I had the privilege of growing up within, not only served as a launching pad for many tennis greats but evolved into an institution that has had a profound impact on the development of athletes across many sports at all levels.”
“So many memories, I am not sure where to begin. Nickiiiii, that’s how I have called you for the longest time,” wrote Tommy Haas, former world No. 2 and one of Bollettieri’s former pupils, in an Instagram post.
“Thank you for your time, knowledge, commitment, expertise, the willingness to share your skill, your personal interest in mentoring me, and giving me the best opportunity to follow my dreams. You were a dreamer and a doer, and a pioneer in our sport, truly one of a kind," added Haas.